March 12, 2002
Next Up - UNC-Wilmington: The Seahawks, playing as members of the Colonial Athletic Association, come to Tucson sporting an 11-3 overall record this season. They are led by head coach Mark Scalf who has tallied a 296-187 record in 10-plus years at the helm. UNC Wilmington returns five starters, four pitchers and 16 letterwinners from last season's 22-27 team. Senior Zach Harris leads the team in hitting with a .366 average in 12 games played this season. Starter Jake Mullins (3-0) anchors the pitching staff with a team-best 2.41 ERA and 17 strikeouts. The 2002 match up is the first ever meeting between the two schools.
Arizona Pitching Probables Friday- Sean Rierson (4-2, 2.45 ERA) Saturday - Joe Little (4-1, 4.17 ERA) Sunday - Marc Kaiser (3-1, 2.93 ERA)
Notes From Long Beach State: The 49ers swept the season series with Arizona for the second consecutive season and have won the last 10 straight meetings over the Wildcats dating back to 1989... Arizona collected just 16 hits in three games against LBSU pitching, while striking out 34 times ... Brian Anderson returned from a 15 game absence due to a sprained left knee and hit his first home run of the season on Saturday. He finished the game 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored ... Chris Cunningham hit his team-leading fifth homer in the same game ... Saturday's game was the first contest of the season that Arizona pitchers did not record a single strikeout ... The 17 strikeouts on offense in Friday's game were the second most in school history. The 1967 team whiffed 18 times against Arizona State and the 1999 team matched that number against USC ... Cunningham's four K's on Friday marked the first time since 1999 that a Wildcat hitter struck out four times in game. Andy Juday was called out on strikes four times against USC on March 9, 1999 ... Friday's shutout was the second time this season that starter Sean Rierson was victimized by a lack of run support. Twice the sophomore righthander has lost 4-0 decisions (Texas A&M and LBSU) this year.
Sanctity At Sancet: The Arizona baseball team has thus far played Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde this season in regards to home and road games. The Wildcats have posted an impressive 16-1 record in the Old Pueblo against a horror like 1-6 record on the road. The Wildcats have found the home environment much more appealing on offense as evidenced by its .320 batting average and 10 runs per game at Sancet Field as opposed to a lowly .167 average and 2.86 runs per game away from Tucson. The Arizona offense has posted one-hit, three-hits and four-hits in separate road games this year and have been shutout all three times in those contests. The pitching and defense aren't exempt from the comparison as the Wildcat hurlers have posted a 3.08 ERA at home and a 4.40 ERA on the road. Their control in Tucson appears to be better as well, posting 138 strikeouts to 44 walks at home and just 19 K's against 12 walks in the visitors' dugout. With the gloves, Arizona is fielding at .967 clip at Sancet Field and .955 on the road.
Help Wanted: Dating back March 31 of last season, Arizona's Friday starter Sean Rierson has gone 8-3 in 14 starts. In the losses during that time span, Arizona has been shutout on offense all three times. Against Oregon State (3/31) last season, the Beavers blanked the Wildcats 8-0 during a Rierson start and twice this season (2/15 at Texas A&M and 3/8 at LBSU) the Wildcats did not touch home in support of the sophomore in nearly identical 4-0 losses. The righthander has proven that any runs in aide of his efforts on the mound go rewarded as shown by his complete game, 1-0, shutout of San Diego State and his combined, 3-0, blanking of Utah earlier this season. Despite the lack of run support, Rierson has pitched well. With a 4-2 overall record this season, he has failed to hurl less than six innings only once in last 10 starts (and that was only due to a line drive off of his right forearm against UC Irvine - 2/22/02). In both shutout losses this season he pitched seven innings and gave up only four runs both times.
Anderson Returns: Wildcat outfielder Brian Anderson returned from a 15 game stretch on the D.L. with a sprained left knee in Arizona's three-game set with Long Beach. The sophomore made his impression felt in his second game back in the starting lineup going 3-for-4 with a home run, a pair of RBIs and three runs scored.
Coming Through In A Pinch: Ken Riley has produced in the pinch this season. Pinch hitting that is. The junior is the only Arizona player to come through with a pinch hit this year, and has done so twice. In three pinch hit at bats, Riley is batting .667 with a single, a triple and an RBI that scored the game tying run in the 10th inning of Arizona's come-from-behind win over UC Irvine on Feb. 23.
Stick Around For the Stretch: Arizona has outscored its opponents 33-7 in the seventh inning this season. The 26 run difference is the most of all innings for the Wildcats this year. The first inning is closest, with Arizona holding a 17 point discrepancy with a 29-12 advantage.
Hitting Notes: The Wildcats saw their team batting average drop 13 points after the three-game series loss to Long Beach State ... Justyn St. Clair emerged as the team's leading hitter in the series, going 3-for-8 (.375 ) with an RBI ... Freshman Richard Mercado continues to lead the Arizona offense in hitting for the season with a .338 (25-for-74) average ... The team home run race currently belongs to senior Chris Cunningham with five, Moises Duran and Jeff Van Houten trail by one each with four apiece ... Cunningham also has the team lead in RBIs with 26 ... St. Clair leads the team in hitting over the last five games with a .375 (6-for-16) average. Freshmen teammates Van Houten and Will Thompson are one-two in RBIs over Arizona's last five contests with five and four runs driven in, respectively ... Senior Brad Hassey has strung together a team season-high-tying nine-game hitting streak ... Hassey leads the team with 10 multiple hit games and is tied for the most multi-run games at seven with Moises Duran ... Chris Cunningham has seven multiple RBI games this year to lead Arizona.
Pitching Notes: The Arizona pitching staff continues to maintain an almost three-to-one strikeout to walk ratio (2.80-to-1) ... Of the 114 runs Arizona has surrendered this season, 33 of them have been unearned ... Opponents are hitting just .269 against the Wildcats this season, an improvement of nine points over last season's team (.278) through 24 games ... The team ERA of 3.43 is 1.87 points lower than last year at the same time of the season ... Sean Rierson continues to lead the starters with a 2.45 ERA. He and sophomore classmate Joe Little are tied for the team lead in wins with four each ... Little remains the team leader in strikeouts despite not ringing up a single batter in his last outing against Long Beach State ... Arizona pitchers are averaging nearly six innings per start.
Team Leaders Batting Average - Mercado - .338 Hits - Hassey - 27 RBI - Cunningham - 26 Doubles - Mercado, Van Houten - 7 Triples - Thompson - 3 Homers - Cunningham - 5 Total Bases Cunningham - 46 Walks - Duran - 20 Stolen Bases - Hassey - 8 Pitching ERA - Sulser - 1.64 Wins - Rierson, Little - 4 Loses - Sulser, Rierson - 2 Saves - Sulser - 3 Innings Pitched Rierson - 47.2 Strikeouts - Little - 36 Appearances - Sulser - 10
Series Sweep Rebounds: Dating back to 2000, the Wildcats have be swept in three-game series five times. That's the bad news. The good news is that four times after suffering a sweep, the Wildcats have gone on to win the series immediately following, including one this season. After losing three straight at Texas A&M this year, the Wildcats swept UC Irvine at home. In 2001, Arizona was downed three games to none by both Long Beach State and USC, but turned around to win series with New Mexico (3-0) and Oregon State (2-1) the following week. In 2000 the Wildcats dropped all three games in a series with ASU and UCLA, Arizona bested UCSB the next week after the ASU series loss, but fell two games to one to the same Sun Devils following the sweep by the Bruins.
Two For 900: Arizona is just two wins shy of its 900th all-time victory at Frank Sancet Field. Located on the corners of Enke and National Championship Drives, Sancet Field has been the home of Arizona baseball for over 35 seasons. Known originally as Wildcat Field, it was renamed and dedicated Frank Sancet Field on April 19, 1986 to honor Arizona's longtime head coach. Coach Sancet put Arizona on the collegiate baseball map, posting a 831-283-8 (.744) record in 23 seasons as head coach. His Wildcat teams made 16 postseason appearances during his tenure and nine trips to Omaha. He finished runner-up at the College World Series three times. Since moving to its current location, the Arizona team has gone 898-386-3 in 1,287 games for a .699 winning percentage (Current through 3/14/02). The Wildcats have suffered only three losing seasons on their home turf and nearly reach perfection in former head coach Jerry Kindall's second season with a 37-1 home record. Frank Sancet Field has been the site of four NCAA Regionals (1979, '80, '89, '92).